The Seven Kingdoms is a realm located on the continent of Westeros, ruled by the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, the king who sits on the Iron Throne in the capital city, King's Landing. The name derives from the situation three centuries ago when Aegon the Conqueror set to unite the lands of Westeros, which then contained seven independent realms. The new realm created from Aegon's Conquest contains nine distinct regions or provinces.
Torrhen Stark, King in the North.
Ronnel Arryn, King of Mountain and Vale.
Harren Hoare, King of the Isles and the Rivers.
Loren I Lannister, King of the Rock.
Mern IX Gardener, King of the Reach.
Argilac Durrandon, the Storm King.
Meria Martell, Princess of Dorne.
Aegon and his sisters conquered only six of the seven kingdoms, consolidating them under the rule of House Targaryen and the Iron Throne. Among the titles that Aegon received when crowned king in the Starry Sept in Oldtown, however, was "Lord of the Seven Kingdoms" - laying claim to Dorne, the seventh kingdom, though in truth the Iron Throne would not add Dorne to its domains for another two centuries, when it joined through peaceful marriage-alliance.
For most of their history the regions of Westeros were independent kingdoms. The number of these kingdoms and their borders have changed many times. Following a successful conquest of all the lands of Westeros south of the Wall but Dorne, and their consolidation under the rule of the Iron Throne, Aegon established his new empire's capital on the spot of his landing, for which it was known as King's Landing.
Due to the vast size of the new kingdom, in each region Aegon raised Great Houses who swore fealty to him. The lords were granted a degree of autonomy and granted authority over their minor lords and small folk.
Houses that survived the Conquest
House Stark chose to submit and was confirmed as overlords over the north.
House Arryn submitted and retained the Vale of Arryn.
House Lannister was allowed to keep their family holdings after they bent the knee, following defeat at the Field of Fire.
House Martell retained its independence for a time.
Houses established by the Conquest
House Targaryen obtained dominion over most of Westeros, and settled in the Crownlands.
House Tully of Riverrun was awarded over-lordship of the riverlands as Lord Paramount of the Trident, for supporting Aegon against Harren.
House Greyjoy was granted the Iron Islands after the death of King Harren the Black.
House Tyrell was granted over-lordship over the Reach as Lord Paramount of the Mander.
House Baratheon married into the Durrandons and were awarded the stormlands as Lord Paramount of the Stormlands, after the defeat of the Storm King Argilac the Arrogant.
Regions and Territory
- See also: Westeros
Despite its name, the Seven Kingdoms is a realm divided into nine administrative regions or provinces: the crownlands, Dorne, the Iron Islands, the north, the Reach, the riverlands, the stormlands, the Vale of Arryn, and the westerlands. These include former kingdoms such as the north, the Reach, the stormlands, the Vale, and the westerlands. The riverlands had been independent centuries ago, but had fallen to the Storm Kings and more recently to the ironborn, who jointly ruled both realms as Kings of the Isles and the Rivers. The rivermen regained independence after the local lords rebelled against Harren the Black and swore fealty to Aegon during the conquest, with the Iron Islands becoming a separate region. Dorne is a principality instead of a kingdom, while Aegon's island realm of Dragonstone, ancient seat of the Targaryens, was not counted as one of the Seven Kingdoms at the time of the conquest. The area around King's Landing, which had also been a battleground between several kingdoms, constituted the royal demesne and became known as the crownlands. Within the crownlands, Dragonstone was successively granted to the heirs apparent to the throne.
The realm's territory includes all but the northernmost lands on the continent of Westeros, where the Wall defines its northern border. The king on the Iron Throne also controls the many islands off the coast of Westeros, such as the Arbor, Bear Island, Claw Isle, Dragonstone, Driftmark, Estermont, the Shields, Skagos, Tarth, and the Three Sisters. The kingdom has occasionally been drawn into conflicts over the Stepstones off its southeastern coast, but it has rarely controlled a significant portion of them.
The population of the Seven Kingdoms numbers in the millions. The monarch on the Iron Throne use the title King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, referring to the major ethnic groups from which most Westerosi descend. The kingdom is sparsely populated in the vast regions of the north and the deserts of Dorne, and mostly densely populated in the fertile lands of the Reach. The kingdoms are speckled with holdfasts, towns, and villages, but only five settlements can be called cities. Listed in decreasing order of size, they are:
- King's Landing, the capital of the Seven Kingdoms and the most populous city, with a population of half a million.
- Oldtown, located within the Reach. The oldest city on the continent and nearly equal to King's Landing in size, it is home to the Citadel of the maesters.
- Lannisport, located within the westerlands.
- Gulltown, located within the Vale of Arryn.
- White Harbor, located within the north
King's Landing and Oldtown are both large cities; Lannisport is a medium-sized city, while Gulltown and White Harbor are small cities. All five of them are ports located on the coasts. Although there are many smaller ports and market towns, most of the Seven Kingdoms is primarily rural.
Oldtown is the eldest of all the five cities: its origins are lost in the mists of time in the Dawn Age, extending back to when the First Men first settled in Westeros (if not earlier). Lannisport is the next eldest, founded during the Age of Heroes after the Lannisters displaced the Casterlys - still making it quite ancient. Both Oldtown and Lannisport had grown large enough to be considered "cities" by the time of the Andal invasion 6,000 years ago. Gulltown, the next eldest, did exist at the time of the Andal invasion but had not yet reached the size of a true "city" - instead it was a prosperous port-town. It was only under the following generations of Andal rule that Gulltown prospered and grew into a real city in scale. White Harbor is far younger than the eldest three: while there were always some inhabitants around the mouth of the White Knife, it was primarily a stronghold known as the Wolf's Den used to defend against attacks by sea. The town and later city of White Harbor was only created about one thousand years ago, when House Manderly fled from the Reach and were given shelter by the Starks in the North, as well as the lands around the river mouth. Despite being the largest city, King's Landing is by far the youngest: created barely three centuries ago by the Targaryens, to serve as a new capital city for their realm after they unified the continent. King's Landing mushroomed into a true city in size by 10 AC, and by 25 AC it had outgrown both White Harbor and Gulltown to become the third largest city on the continent.
- See also: Customs
The people of the Seven Kingdoms are a mixture of several ethnic groups which have migrated to the continent over the centuries and intermarried. As such these original ethnicities are more of a blurred trend than firm political units. Today they are mostly identified through their place of residence, where each kingdom retains its unique flavor. The influence of the Andals is strongest in the south, while the northmen still follows many customs of the First Men. Dornishmen are heavily influenced by the mass immigration of the Rhoynar. Small groups, such as the ironmen of the Iron Islands and the Vale mountain clans, maintain different cultures from the rest of the realm.
Its feudal society is based on the model of the old kingdoms on which the Targaryen dynasty was built with each region retaining some sovereign rights and ruled by a high lord that answers only to the King.
Commerce and Currency
- See also: Currency
Most transactions in Seven Kingdoms involve currency. The coinage is minted by the master of coin appointed by the King on the Iron Throne. There are golden dragons, silver stags and copper stars. Golden dragons are worth the most and have a dragon stamped on one side and a king's face on the other. Most smallfolk would never own a gold dragon, using mostly copper stars for their needs.
Trade within the Seven Kingdoms is quite vigorous, as the products of Dorne are very different from those of the north. However, long distance trade is almost entirely in luxuries, as transport is very expensive, not to mention dangerous. Transport by land is around ten times as expensive as transport by ships, which means that almost all goods travel by river or coastal ship for at least part of their journey. Furs from the north, silks and gems from the south, fine craft work from anywhere these are the items that are gathered at great markets. Grain, meat, and fish are also found there, but they have almost exclusively come from nearby areas.
- See also: Religion
The people of the Seven Kingdoms follow several different faiths. The Faith of the Seven is the primary religion of the realm, the only regions where it is not practiced are the Iron Islands, where worship of the Drowned God holds sway, and the north, where worship of the old gods of the forest remains strong.
- The Faith of the Seven is the primary religion of the Seven Kingdoms, it was brought to Westeros by the Andals, thousand of years before the country formation. The Faith worships the Seven, a single deity with separate aspects: the Mother, the Father, the Warrior, the Smith, the Maiden, the Crone, and the Stranger.
- The old gods are worshiped in the north and the lands beyond the Wall. The faith of the children of the forest, who used to inhabit the land thousands of year ago, a faith that worship numerous and nameless gods of the forests, who are always watching through the faces carved into the bark of ancient weirwood trees.
- The Drowned God, the indigenous deity of the Iron Islands, is a harsh deity who rewards those who plunder in his name.
- R'hllor, the red god, is a deity popular in Essos but little-known in Westeros, although gaining in popularity. The followers of R'hllor claim their deity is the Lord of Light and will stand against the Great Other, the god of darkness and cold, in a war that is to come.
The Seven Kingdoms have a very long history, and I haven't mentioned all of it... nor will I.
This talk of Seven Kingdoms is a folly. Aegon saw that three hundred years ago when he stood where we are standing. They painted this table at his command. Rivers and bays they painted, hills and mountains, castles and cities and market towns, lakes and swamps and forests ... but no borders. It is all one. One realm, for one king to rule alone.
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 13, Tyrion II.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The North.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reign of the Dragons: The Conquest.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach: Oldtown.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 38, Tyrion V.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Reach.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Vale.
- The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aegon I.
- A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 45, The Blind Girl.
- A Song of Ice and Fire Roleplaying, Campaign Guide
- So Spake Martin: Social Structure, Moat Cailin, and More (June 10, 2002)
- A Game of Thrones, Chapter 3, Daenerys I.
- A Storm of Swords, Chapter 36, Davos IV.